If you’ve ever had a bad night’s sleep, you’ll know how grotty you feel the next day.
It’s common for people not to sleep well during times of worry or change, but as long as that period doesn’t last too long, you can usually move forward without much harm done. For most people, a couple of days without sleep will be more annoying than anything else, you may notice subtle changes in your mood or concentration (people may describe you as grumpy or forgetful) but once you’ve recouped your sleep, you’ll probably feel fine.
When it comes to poor mental health, insomnia (essentially trouble falling asleep or staying asleep) is not just a common symptom; it may even be the cause. You may have had problems sleeping for years but this has gone without treatment or attention; you may have only just started to recognise that periods of insomnia run parallel to your low mood. Lack of sleep can also affect our memory and our immune system; both can have an impact on your mental health, especially if you’re always feeling run down or persistently coming down with coughs and colds.
Animated TED Talk on Sleep Deprivation
Lack of sleep can be caused by a number of things:
- A bereavement or loss of something important like a job or relationship;
- Financial pressures
- Poor sleep environment or routine;
- Physical illness or injury;
- Poor diet including too much caffeine
- Trauma, something that happened to you or someone close;
- A belief that sleep is “bad”, a sign of laziness or something to control;
and much more.
I talk about this and more in my book Answers in the Dark: Grief, Sleep and How Dreams Can Help You Heal. The book aims to join the dots between our sleep, dreams and our mental health, specifically how grief shows up, even if no one has died. I explore some of the big myths of sleep, offer a Sleep Cycle Repair Kit including mindfulness activities as well as some top tips to help you decode your dreams.
You can find out more in the video below or order on Amazon.